October 14, 2014

10 highlights from our awesome trip to Vancouver Island


Like so very many of the best holidays do, our recent fortnight on Vancouver Island sped past at the speed of light. What had been diligently saved and planned for over the course of many months, came and was done before we could blink - or so it felt. In reality, we filled our days wonderfully and crossed many entries off of our to-do list (though quite a few remain for future visits, which will no doubt include revisiting some of our new favourites again as well) and it's hard to cap today's post at just ten entries.

The weather during our trip was a bit of a surprise, as it rained profusely for some, or all, of just about every day that we were there. I might have expected as much in the spring, especially being smack dab on the Pacific Ocean with its relatively damp Canadian West Coast climate, but I didn't see it coming for the start of fall and will certainly keep as much in mind now when it comes to booking future trips to Victoria or elsewhere on Vancouver Island. As a result of the the fact that it was pouring kitties and puppies right, left and center, we didn't get to do as many outdoor activities - including outfit photo shoots - as we'd hoped for, but ultimately it was okay, because the damp weather just meant that we did more things inside (and still managed to get a few shoots, which I'll be sharing snaps from in outfit posts here throughout the fall).

Though vintage related going ons were a part of this trip, and we intentionally planned for the travel dates that we did so as to correspond on the Victoria Vintage Expo (see entry #10 below), this trip was not solely focused on buying for the Etsy shop or myself, in part because I wanted it (the trip) to be something of a breather from me from work and I'm very happy to say that it was (just as it was for Tony, who needed some respite from the long, exhausting workdays he puts in all year long as well).

Save for two days when I simply wasn't doing well enough on the health front to leave the house (one of which Tony had fun going fishing on), we were out and about everyday of the trip and saw, did and enjoyed various places and experiences on each of them. I'm sincerely impressed with how much we accomplished, while still feeling like we were relaxing and taking things at a manageable pace in the process. Though this trip wasn't as life altering for me as last year's journey to Calgary, I didn't go into it expecting it to be and was thankful for the fact that it felt like a proper, relaxing holiday.

That said, I certainly experienced some important thoughts and gained a clearer picture on how to move forward with juggling the demands of both my blog and Etsy shop, without (hopefully) doing (new) serious damage to my health. There had been some very worrisome warning signs and major flare-ups indicating that I was at risk of doing so towards the end of the summer, due to the insanely long hours and amount of physical work I was putting in on that front, plus the stress that was arising from that situation, so taking a break where we did couldn’t have come at a better time.

Even the rain couldn't dampen (pun intended :D) my spirits while we were on Vancouver Island and I'm so glad that Tony and I selected it as our holiday destination for 2014. I have fallen madly, head-over-heels with Victoria and the Island as a whole (to the point where, no joke, I'd happily pack up and move there today if such is possible, which it isn't for a multitude of reasons - but perhaps one distant day it will be) and can scarcely wait to get back there again on the double!

Until then though, I'll have fun reflecting on the many stellar memories we made during our 2014 vacation, very much including each and every one of the following ten activities, sights and experiences (which are in completely random order, not a top ten kind of list - it would be darn near impossible for me to do so, as I adored each one in so many ways!).


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1. Whale Watching on the Pacific Ocean



This was one of the top activities that I'd been daydreaming of doing on the Island and I'm so grateful that it was able to happen, as I have a profound love of whales (and animals in general) and had never done so before. We booked our three hour long excursion with the well known Price of Whales company (in part because their boats offered smooth sailing and washrooms, both a must for me) and lucked out with the fact that we were on the water during one of the few sunny afternoons of our trip.

Though the sightings were a bit slow to come at first, around the half way mark we spotted a few minke whales, then as we got out even further into the gorgeous blue Pacific ocean, several majestic orca whales, a few seals, and for all of about two seconds, one endlessly adorable brown sea otter. The captain of the boat did a stellar job of keeping the required (it's the law) 100 yards from all of the ocean critters, but at one point an orca surfaced close to the boat of its own accord and when it did, Tony was able to capture the photo above. It was inspiring and immensely fun to see these intelligent, amazing animals up close and I will treasure the memory of my first whale watching trip for as long as I live.



2. Hanging out with history at the Royal BC Museum


And speaking of animals, back on dry land, during an especially rainy morning, we hightailed it to the wonderful Royal BC Museum, which I don't believe I'd been to in more than twenty years. One of the province's largest and best museums, it is a "must see" for any history, archaeology, or nature buff who happens to be in the area, as it houses a stellar mixture of historical exhibits, animal displays (including its famous woolly mammoth, which has been there for at least as long as I have memories of visiting the museum), and plenty of interesting sociological related exhibits, too. Naturally, I was especially smitten with the small historical costume and memorabilia wing, where I took (low light) snaps of several exhibits pertaining to the early and mid-twentieth century, including this beautiful pink 1940s maternity dress with matching accessories.





3. Attending my first live Russell Peters show



Tony was really on the ball, checking online for exciting local events every morning and in doing so one day, he discovered that there was going to be a Russell Peters comedy show that very evening. Tickets were still available, so he booked two for us on the double and we eagerly passed the hours until we we headed over to the Save On Foods Memorial Center to watch this world famous comedian work his humorous magic on the crowd. We've both been huge Russell Peters fans for many years now and always said we'd make it to one of his shows, if possible, so getting to do just that while on holiday was like an extra big cherry on top of the fabulous ice cream sundae that was our whole vacation. He was dynamite in person and I would definitely pay to see him crack up the audience again anytime!





4. Getting to travel on the ferry again

 

I love boats, always, always will, but despite living in a town with two large lakes, I hadn't had the pleasure of riding around on for many years now due to my health and it had been nearly sixteen years actually since I was last on a ferry, so the trip to and from Vancouver Island itself was definitely one of the highlights of this vacation for me. We had completely smooth sailing in both directions and even spotted a couple of whales wayyyyy off in the distance on voyage to the Island.



5. Visiting the Robert Bateman Centre Gallery



When I was a little girl my parents had a large, hardcover coffee table book of world renewed Canadian wildlife painter Robert Bateman's work which was indeed on our living coffee table for several years. It was through this tomb of phenomenally beautiful artwork that my lifelong love of Bateman's work was born and to this day, he remains my favourite Canadian - and wildlife in general - artist ever.

Visiting the Robert Bateman Centre Gallery, which is devoted to his work, was one of the top things I hoped to do in Victoria and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. Spacious rooms teeming with his paintings, sketches, and other creative works invite viewers to linger and even interact with them (through a specially designed app, as well as sound buttons you can press alongside many paintings to hear various bird sounds that correspond with a given piece of art), and cause one to happily reflect on just how incredibly blessed we are by nature and how we must do all that we can to preserve what remains of it for future generations.



6. Seeing the ocean in Parksville



Tony and I took some day trips to nearby towns and communities around Victoria, the furthest point of which was the incredibly pretty ocean town of Parksville, where we went thrift store shopping and explored two breathtaking beaches, which were made all the more lovely by the fact that fall's colour palette was beginning to return to the area. Parksville was my favourite location outside of Victoria itself that we saw and I really look forward to visiting again in the future (as well as exploring even further up and down the Island).




7. Antique shopping around the island


Skipping a photo here on purpose...I want to surprise you with lots of great new listings of what I bought on our travels in the shop as the year progresses! (I'm such a tease, I know! :D)


 Having last been on the Island when I was 14.5 years old, I'd not had a chance to go vintage or antique shopping there as an adult yet and was seriously eager to do so. While Victoria (and various other Island towns and cities) has some vintage stores, and they're all great, it was the abundance of antique stores nearly everywhere we travelled the knocked my socks off most of all. There are dozens of them on Vancouver Island and I only got to a small handful during our two weeks there.

As with antique stores everywhere, some have very reasonable prices, others are laughably expensive and a plenty fall in between the two. Luckily we hit a few that were quite well priced and I was delighted to score several items for the Etsy shop, as well as a couple of great treasures (such as a c. 1950s copper charm bracelet with mining themed/gold rush themed charms that I madly adore) for my own wardrobe/collection, too. Of all the places I've visited so far in Canada, I can confidently say that Vancouver Island has the largest concentration of antique stores I've ever seen in this country (and as such, I will definitely be returning their primarily for the purpose of sourcing and shopping likely many times in the future).




8. Feeding the harbour seals at Fisherman's Wharf



Without a doubt, seals are one of my all-time favourite animals, so when I learned that there was a group of that that lived in the waters of Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, which the public was encouraged to feed, I couldn't hightail it down there fast enough to do so. In the rain (surprise, surprise! ;)) we did just that, buying $5.00 trays of small, whole fish to feed them from an onsite fish monger's shop. They were mind blowingly adorable, cute as can be, and very friendly. If I lived in Victoria, I know I'd be there every week feeding and visiting with them (and plan to do so on all future trips to Victoria). You can see another photo of the seals that I took here.




9. The amazing abundance of heritage and vintage housing & buildings



Just as Vancouver Island has the largest number of antique stores I've encountered in Canada, so too does it have - by a very long shot - the greatest volume of heritage and vintage houses and buildings (many of them dating to before 1900) I've had the great pleasure of seeing anywhere in the country. Victoria and the Island as a whole have done a tremendous job of preserving these architectural treasures and ensured that I had some gorgeous old school eye candy wherever I went throughout the trip. In fact, at once point Tony even said (and tweeted) that if I was a city, I would be Victoria (because of all the vintage and history to be had there), and I couldn't agree with him more. (The photo above is of the back side of the stunning Legislature Building in Victoria.)




10. Attending the annual Victoria Vintage Expo



Last, but unequivocally not last, one of the biggest standouts of our time on the Island was attending the annual Victoria Vintage Expo, which was held on both floors of the beautiful, historic Crystal Garden Conference center. The two day event brought in vendors and thousands of attendees from across Canada and the the United States, and was absolutely jam packed.

We were there when the doors opened at 4pm on Friday afternoon and didn't leave until shortly before they closed at 10pm that night. During that time, I worked at break neck speed to see ever vendor (I hope I didn't miss any!) and also took part in the fun little fashion show that they had, in which I won for the best accessories category, which was quite an honour.

As it was (yet again) raining that afternoon and we were soooo busy once inside the show, which was too crowded in most spots to take photos anyhow, we didn't get in an outfit shoot that day, but thankfully there were at least two photographers who had been hired to document the day and both of took my picture. Some of their snaps are up on the Victoria Vintage Expo Facebook page and that's where this image of me hails from. I truly adored this event, which was far larger and even better than I'd dreamed it would be and will definitely be returning as a customer, seller, or - most likely - both in future years.


{Orca whale photograph via Tony's Instagram, picture of me at the Victoria Vintage Fair via their official Facebook page. All other photos taken by me and shared on my Instagram.}



♥ ♥ ♥



As you can see, we did a lot in the span of just two weeks - and this isn't even a complete list by any means (two other fabulous highlights included attending opening night of a live performance of Pride & Prejudice at the Langham Court Theater and getting to go shopping in person at Forever 21 again for the first time since we lived in Toronto).


Some of the loveliest moments were also those when we were just walking or driving around the city, getting to know its history rich personality and many perks better, and I wouldn't have traded them for anything, as they really helped familiarize us with BC's capital and endear this sweepingly beautiful place to my heart all the more.

I don't have the slightest idea where we may venture off on holiday next year (assuming such is possible), but wherever it may be, you can bet that I'll have my iPhone at the ready, Instagram as we go, and post about it once we're home. Who knows, given how very much I've fallen madly in love Victoria, maybe we'll be making a repeat performance there (that would be A-okay with me!). :)

41 comments:

  1. Yay! So happy to read this wonderful post. I was rooting for you to have a great trip. And, in the process, it seems you've found a better balance in your life between the many competing demands. Good for you.

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  2. Oh wow, whale watching and feeding seals! As you already know from my most recent blogpost, my recent experiences of seeing both animals left me feeling pretty down - watching and interacting with some amazing animals in the wild would be my dream come true as well! My heart welled just looking at those photos. And I definitely agree on how you spend so long saving, planning and waiting for a holiday and then it's over in what feels like about five minutes! And in my case, I had lovely weather but the good ol' UK is reminding me of what constant rain feels like since I've been back... heh. CC x

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  3. Your took such beautiful crisp pictures as always. Your trip sounded like it was truly lovely! Can't wait to see if you post anymore tidbits from it. I love the seal picture, I got so sea sick when I went whale watching I missed seeing the whales!

    The vintage expo sounds amazing as well, your outfit to go shopping in was tops so glad to hear you won a category.

    I should really look into booking a vacation it has been many years:)

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  4. the wale is cute - but you in that gray suit and veiled hat is absolutely gorgeous!!!!!! that gloves!!!
    you make me want to go to the island in this very moment! it´s really much more then rainforests :-)
    take care of you my friend, we will patiently wait for your posts!
    xxxxxxx

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  5. What a lovely trip! ( except for the days you felt under the weather) Robert Bateman would have definitely been a highlight for me. He was the artist I chose to study in highschool and have loved his works ever since. In fact one year for Christmas my husband surprised me with one of his books signed by him. This will have to go on my to do list next time I visit B.C.

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  6. looks like you had a great time fully packed with wonderful things!
    the outfit you wore to the expo is absolutely great. you really deserve to win not just one catagory n this look!

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    1. Thank you very much, my wonderfully sweet friend. Your thoughts on this outfit really mean a lot to me.

      ♥ Jessica

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  7. Oh, all of this looks incredibly fun! I've never been on a ferry or even seen the ocean...the closest I've come to seeing a large body of water was Lake Michigan while I was in Chicago oh so many years ago. So needless to say I've never seen a whale or a seal unless I was at a Zoo. And yes, you are a tease, but I can't wait to see all your oodles of goodies for your shop and otherwise! How exciting.

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  8. Wow, it sounds like you packed a lot of fun into your trip! I know how hard it can be to take a breather from something that you're really passionate about, but it sounds like some time away was just what you needed.
    Love the photos of all your awesome activities. The seals! So cute! And I absolutely adore walking around a new city and seeing their interesting architecture. It looks like Victoria has some really beautiful buildings to enjoy. You look really lovely in that last photo, and it comes as no surprise to anyone that you won for best accessories.

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  9. Sure looks like you had an amazing trip. I'm sorry to hear that you had a few down days, but am glad that you took them for yourself. What a teaser you are!!! I'm so excited to see some of your purchases. You look fabulous, it's no surprise that you won for best accessories. I've missed your face here, I'm so glad you are back.

    She Knits in Pears

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    1. You're massively sweet, dear Cherry, thank you very much! It's awesome to be back and blogging once again. I do like, and sometimes even need, a breather every now and then (as we all do), but two weeks was plenty in that regard and I'm rearing to go with all kinds of fun posts (including plenty of seasonal ones) for the coming fall and winter.

      ♥ Jessica

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  10. What an outstanding trip! You did so much! And yes, I love the tease-cannot wait to see what you scored :) xox

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  11. Oh my! Where to begin? I've always wanted to go whale watching. I hope to go one day. How cute to see seals? I'd love this so much too! It sounds like you just had a whirlwind of a time. So much fun! Congratulations on getting an award for best accessories!! You really do know how to put an outfit together:) I love the gloves:)) I can't wait to hear more details!!! You look beautiful dear Jessica:)

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    1. Thank you very much, darling Joanna! It was a whirlwind, but in the best kind of way and for all the busy moments, there were plenty of lowkey ones as well. I think it was important trip to set the tone for how I'd like a lot of our future travels to be.

      Those gloves are truly best! They are, hands down (glove pun intended :)), my favourite pair in my whole collection. I'm so blessed to have received them as an endlessly thoughtful gift a couple of years ago. :)

      I wish we could have gotten in an outfit photo shoot that day. Perhaps I'll just have to don this very same outfit, right down to every last accessory again, and do just that in the future (I really want to!).

      Oodles of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  12. Yes, whale watching is definitely on my list, it sounds fab and the sea otter sounds super cute! I am glad you had a relaxing time (if a little quick) and I am sorry you weren't feeling so well for a part of it. xx

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  13. Lovely photos! Love the one of you! :)

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  14. Isn't it rather sad how fast vacations seem to go?! But at least we can have those memories and photos forever to remember and enjoy. Whale watching is something I too have always wanted to do. I may need to visit Maine in the future (I hear there is good whale watching there). Traveling is amazing and I am glad you had a wonderful time :)
    Abbi

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  15. This just sounds amazing! I'm glad you had such a wonderful holiday and shared the highlights with us. I think nature, history, atmosphere, and a bit of shopping pretty much covers my most important holiday requirements!

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    1. Thank you very much, dear Tanith, it truly was amazing. I hadn't really stopped to think of what we did in pie chart form (so to speak), but I believe you've hit the nail on the head and that mix is a huge part of the reason why I adored this trip so very, very much. I need the mix the indoors with the out, nature with the city, and relaxing with doing, and this wonderful holiday delivered on all those fronts. I have no doubt that it will long stand as one of my favourites ever for that very reason.

      ♥ Jessica

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  16. I can see why you won the contest-your accessories are fab!

    I'm so glad you had a good time, and that the whale watching wasn't on some rickety boat where half your time was spent heaving over the side (Nantucket..*shudder*). That's a great photo Tony was able to capture of the orca, though the seal picture is pretty darn cute as well.

    I absolutely love that grey suit you're wearing at the fair-such great details, and it fits you perfectly.

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  17. So glad you had a lovely relaxing time. Our holidays seem to be full of madly packing as much as we can in, attending every museum and gallery, and finding every thrift and vintage store. Next holiday I am determined for it to be a relaxing one! You looked lovely in your suit, and that cuffed shirt peeking out looks divine!

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    1. Thank you very much, dear gal! Those cuffs are actually part of my amazing 1940s gloves that I'm wearing there, not my shirt (as I agree,it does very much look like they could be). Aren't they just the most sublime things you've ever seen? A very dear (fellow vintage wearing) friend gifted them to me a couple of years ago and they stand out as being the more glamorous gloves in my whole collection.

      ♥ Jessica

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  18. Gosh! You certainly did pack in a lot in your Vancouver Island fortnight. The whale and seal watching sounded amazing - especially being able to be close up to them. And as for the Vintage Expo....well, I have to admit that I'm just a bit jealous!!

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  19. It looks like you had an amazing time! What a beautiful place. The grey suit you are wearing is seriously your best outfit ever, and I know I've said that a 100 times by now, but then you keep outdoing yourself

    retro rover

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  20. Lucky you to go whale watching, what an amazing experience. I love your outfit for the expo what a gorgeous suit.
    I think it's always worth testing your limits every now and then but absolutely necessary to step back when you know you are going a little too far, you've got to keep looking after yourself.

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  21. I'm so glad you had a wonderful trip Jessica! And I'm glad that you were able to escape even briefly some of the stresses in your life. I'm sorry to hear that your health is causing issues again but your positive outlook truly is inspiring and I'm sure helps you get thru some of the rough days.

    I would love to see all that you saw (especially that vintage expo-making a note of that). Can't wait to see what goodies you brought home.

    Liz :)

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  22. I love the Royal BC Museum! It was one of my favorite places to visit as a kid when we would travel to Victoria to see my grandma. Thanks so much for sharing highlights from your trip, it brought back lots of fond childhood memories for me. :)

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  23. Awesome Pics!!! I would like to visit that place, is beautiful <3
    Glad to know that you had a great time there! Hugs =) xxx

    vintagepri.blogspot.com

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  24. I'm so glad you had such a nice trip! That seal is adorable and you look incredible in the last picture!

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    1. We really did, sweet dear, thank you. And having the peace of mind of knowing that I had wonderful guest posts like yours all lined up to keep the blog fires burning brightly, so to speak, really helped ensure I could enjoy it all the more.

      ♥ Jessica

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  25. Great photos. Looks like you had a wonderful time! I loved your outfit pic, and yes you definitely are a tease lol. can't wait to see the items in your shop now

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  26. Your outfit in that last photo is amazing!

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  27. that sounds like a wonderful holiday - whale watching and feeding the seals with a healthy dose of browsing art galleries as well and antiques and vintage, who could complain? but i totally agree about holidays coming and going in the blink of an eye. it's felt like at least a few blinks for me, but my five months is almost up and in a couple more weeks i'll be home again and i can't believe how the time as flown! :( but even when holidays are over the important part is having all the wonderful memories and experiences and at least we get to keep those for life.

    little henry lee

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  28. Looks as though you had a fabulous time and packed a lot in! I've had numerous rainy holidays living as I do in the UK and we just get on and enjoy it like you did! I love the seals and whales and would especially have enjoyed feeding the seals x

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    1. Thank you, lovely Philippa, we really did have a marvelous adventure. Feeding the seals was beyond amazing. I wish everyone could experience it at least once.

      Big hugs & many thanks for your sweet comments this week,
      ♥ Jessica

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  29. Jessica I am fully convinced I could go on a vacation with you ! I'd be jumping up and down and loving every single place you chose to visit. Whale watching, the Royal museum and a vintage Expo ?!?!? I'd be like a child let loose on Disney.

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  30. Oh, Jessica, I had such fun reading this. It sounds like you had a truly marvellous holiday! I suspect quite a few of your readers could happily go along with you—O Canada With Jessica, and I am one of them, though I'd not doubt drag behind trying to capture everything with my camera and then needing to sit down and rest with some tea for a bit. ;) The whale-watching sounds like *such* fun; it's something Zach and I hope to do someday as well, and Vancouver Island is so much closer than Alaska (a good thing, as I cannot fly)! That must have been so thrilling—whales are just incredible, fascinating animals. I used to paint them all the time, and the paintings still hang on the walls of family members' homes, wildly enough!

    Nor am I surprised to read you won the contest. Everyone else was probably nervous that you'd sweep the awards. ;)

    Thanks for mentioning Robert Bateman—I've seen his work before but had no idea who had done it! So I will be perusing his website tonight. His work is really terrific.

    Can't wait to see more photos and hear more. And if you ever start that touring company, please do let me know right away! ;) Please do not wear yourself out catching up, though—that's something that seems so easy for people like us to do. I'm glad you were mostly healthy during the trip, though, definitely! It's always good to plan some "slow, easy" days & things just in case. At least until we're allowed to ride small ponies about.

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  31. I am not at all surprised that you won in the fashion show, that outfit is amazing! You rock that wonderful hat! Your holiday sounds exactly my cup of tea, filled with things that I like to do. How great that you got to see whales and seals, they would have been highlights for me, I have always wanted to see them. I have seen seals on the beach as there is a place near where my parents live where the seals come ashore every year to have their pups. That is a wonderful sight. The pups are so cute! I would like to see them in the sea too.

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  32. Your trip sounds amazing! I hope one day to have a great adventure such as you had. I love the seals and whales, and I'd probably have spent a lot of time oohing and ahhhing over them. Though, I would have lost myself in the museums a lot, so theres that.

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  33. Ah! I think I remember you from your booth! I live really close to the Langham Court Theatre too.

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    1. Hi sweet Sheila, it's really touching that you think you might have spotted me at the Vintage Expo last year. I wasn't selling, but I was there all day on Friday as a customer and then at the end of the evening, I took part in the fashion show (and was touched + delighted to win the "best accessorized" category). It's lovely to think that we were in the same place at the same time, even if we didn't know it.

      Ooohh, you live in a gorgeous part of the city then. If I won a copious amount of money right now, I would give serious thought to relocating to Victoria and that neighbourhood would be amongst my top areas in the city.

      Thank you for your great comment. I love knowing that I now have a new friend on the Island and really hope we can meet up the next time I'm there (or you're up this Okanagan way).

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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